Are black barbers the new leaders within the black community? Though it may sound crazy, I think that this is a legitimate question. Barbers may have as much influence on our communities as teachers, pastors, athletes, and entertainers. Teachers, pastors, athletes, community leaders, and regular citizens all spend time in a barber’s chair. Even those individuals who may sell drugs or commit crimes go to a barbershop. I gained priceless information after speaking to several barbers in order to get a broader perspective on this topic.
D. Reed, the owner of His Image Barbershop in Wilmington, Delaware reminded me that he started cutting hair at the age of thirteen. I remember a young D. Reed while growing up in the infamous Riverside Housing Projects. Cain, the owner of Iconz Barbershop, informed me that he also started cutting hair during his early teenage years. Cain has been a leader in his community and try to steer younger people in the right direction. Cain has offered employment opportunities for other barber for a few decades. Smooth, who is the owner of Quick & Smooth Barbering, has also made a career out of cutting hair. Smooth always has an encouraging word for others when they enter his shop. After serving his country in the military, Travis started cutting hair at Quick & Smooth Barbering. I have had several meaningful conversations with Travis. Travis recently got married and now works hard in order to provide for his family. I respect his work ethic. He is one of those barbers who arrives at work around 6:30am and stay until closing. Maurice, a native of Montgomery, cuts hair at Iconz Barbershop. He was one of the first individuals that I met, after being released from prison and moving to Alabama many years ago. I met Maurice at a barbershop in Montgomery. After cutting my hair several times, our relationship has grown more into a friendship. We had plenty of discussions concerning our responsibility to make improvement within our community. This brings me back to the question, “Are black barbers the new leaders in the black community?” The brothers which I have mentioned have done a great job at being leaders in their communities. We know that they are not perfect nor do we expect them to be. One thing that I can say is that they have made a positive difference in the lives of some of the youth that they work with.
Derrick “D.Reed” has a theme “from the Projects to Progress.” He grew up in the projects but did allow his circumstances to determine his future. D Reed, is a barber in a shop which he owns in Wilmington, Delaware. He started cutting hair during his early teenage years as a hobby. To his surprise his profession, of being a barber, has led to a successful career. He is now able to provide for his family. He credits being a barber with building character in his own life. He also mentioned that being a barber now comes with prestige and the ability to offer employment to others. D. Reed believe that barbers have a responsibility to set a great example for young men to follow. The business of being a barber or even an owner has become more professional. I feel good about going to the barbershop and spending my money there. I realize that going to the barbershop is more like investing back into our communities.
Black church members and pastors have held the torch at leading our communities during the civil rights movement. A lot of the black movements started in the church. Our Muslim brothers and sisters also contributed a great deal in the fight against racism and violence against our people. Black Panthers have done a lot in teaching or encouraging self-defense. I think that black barbers can have a positive impact on the mindset of the African-American community. Black barbers are not an organization but they are in every neighborhood, town, and city in this country. During the fifteen to thirty minute haircut, barbers are listening and giving advice. I have heard some of the greatest conversations or should I say “sermons” a person could speak; while I sat in a barber chair. Barbers have to be a lot of things to different people. Besides being a barber, they are friends, counselors, adviser, mentors, comforters, listener, and to some degree a teacher. By default these barbers have become father-figures to some of the young men who they worked with, since they were children. I have witnessed our local barbers grow and develop as mentors and leaders in the community. Quick & Smooth barbershop offered a food drive during the holidays. This is just a small example of the work they are doing for their community. These brothers are doing what they are because black lives do matter. In addition, they believe in doing the right things in their communities. Barbers are not the only leaders in our communities but I just wanted to acknowledge the work they are doing.
In my book “100 Years” I encouraged young people to think about the negative effects that their actions may have on them as well as on others. I think that barber are doing a good job at getting this message to the youth. We can’t afford to lose another generation. The revolution of change needed in our community may begin within a barbershop.